Alleluia!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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Oh mannnnnn. Easter just gets better every year — more meaningful, more beautiful, more joyful — because “God is infinitely interesting,” as Fr. Barnes once said!

It’s been a wild ride this week, but I think what makes Holy Week leading up to Easter so special is that:

a) people are getting baptized, confirmed, received into the Church!

b) everyone is laser-focused not on themselves but on God Himself. Work, worries, fears, doubts… nothing seems to matter in the face of the reality that Christ gave Himself for us and rose from the dead as He promised. It’s something Christians/Catholics know, but it’s not always something we stop and truly, deeply think about. Holy Week is the time for it, and it is like nothing else in the world.

Festivities included the longest (but most beautiful) Mass ever on Saturday night, followed by a party to ring in Easter!

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I made carrot cake for the occasion using Alton Brown’s recipe. ‘Twas a hit (only because I made sure to make some with AND without raisins and walnuts).

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My body was ready for allllll the food after [just a little bit of] fasting.

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like these mini chicken and waffle bites that Veronica made!!

I got to reunite with peanut butter after giving it up for Lent, and it was quite an event. I literally packed half a pb&j sandwich to bring to the party because I’m ridiculous.

My face can be described as “blissful baby chipmunk” whenever I eat things I enjoy.

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left: last year at a relay race where we had to eat bananas // right: breaking the peanut butter fast this year

Eating, drinking, and being merry 🙂

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On Sunday, I helped prepare brunch for the masses of people after the Easter Mass.  First, I ate my first peanut buttery overnight oats in 40+ days for breakfast.

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I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My friend Louis headed a bunch of people in flapjack flipping, ham carving, table setting, and dessert plating.

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Then we feasted!

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It was a hot and gorgeous day for Easter yesterday too!

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Louis the brunch MVP

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junior ladiez

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Special shoutout to Fiona who rucked (sped-walked with 35-lb. of army gear on her back) 26.2 miles for the Tough Ruck Marathon on Saturday!!! You’re my hero.

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Lauren is my dance partner of choice for life

I also FaceTimed my family + worked out by the river yesterday since it was so nice out!

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At the end of all the celebration madness, when everyone is gone and moving on with their lives, we remember again the One who this is all about. To the quietest, most precious Source of Life — all glory and honor to Thee.

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Hope you all have a wonderful Monday! We have the day off because it’s Marathon Monday/Patriot’s Day 😀

So tell me:

The best thing about your weekend!

If you celebrate, what did you do for Easter or Passover?

One beautiful thing in your life.

 

Weekend Confessions

I feel like the primary purpose of this post is to let my parents know that I am alive and well. Hi, Madre and Pop!!

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Confession #1: I’m going to brag about the salmon and meatloaf I made at work on Friday. Even though I could only have small bites of each for quality control, I have decided that this was possibly the best salmon I’ve ever made and the best (also, the first and only) meatloaf I’ve ever made. Both of them had Trader Joe’s whole grain dijon mustard in it, FYI.

For the salmon: Season with salt and pepper. Rub a crap ton of the mustard + a good drizzle of honey all over. Top with a few dill sprigs. Bake at 425F for 12 minutes.

And I used this meatloaf recipe!

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the salmon looks burnt and the meatloaf looks average, but I promise they were so good! the mustard was all sweet and crispy on the salmon 😀

Confession #2: I almost lost my voice screaming at my first BU hockey game of the season. I hadn’t been to a game in almost a year, so it was great to be back in the “dog pound” cheering on our Terriers!

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we won against University of Maine 4-1 *high fives*

Confession #3: I’ve made more Irish friends during one week in Boston than I did in 3.5 months in Ireland. There’s an exchange student from Ireland who frequents the Catholic Center, so now I have a total of ONE [native] Irish friend who is my age.

Confession #4: I wanted to go to the gym at least once this weekend, but I never did. I’m pretty okay with it though.

Confession #5: I did do some interesting non-gym things like grooving to throwback songs with friends, running (!?), working out by the river at my favorite place, doing Blogilates that made our crooked floor boards creak, stretching while studying gross anatomy, and trying slider exercises with a paper plate!

Confession #6: Also instead of the gym, I did fun things like make/eat pancakes and watch The Office with my pals Ben and Rachel 🙂

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humungous banana and oreo pancakes

Confession #7: I ate at P.F. Changs (aka fake Asian food) and loved it.

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also we were starving, so anything tasted good // too hungry to eat it with chopsticks because that takes too much time #dontdowhatido

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‘Twas for my girl Domenica’s birthday (21!!!! check that sake in a wine glass). It was mighty fun hanging out with all these beautiful women!

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Confession #8: I ate chocolate cake and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can no longer say that I don’t like chocolate, I’ve just accepted it. It’s still not my favorite, and I wouldn’t order chocolate things, but I don’t dislike it.

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we got two “Great Wall of Chocolate” cakes to celebrate, and I was all about it

Confession #9: I ate carrot cake before lunch to celebrate my friend Louis’ birthday the next day. So many birthdays this weekend!

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“Like the liturgically significant candles?” – our friend, Pat, who made the cake

Confession #10: I don’t like to spend more than 10 minutes on dinner.

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Confession #11: Megan shared one of her chocolate pudding cups with me last night for dessert, and it was blissful. You bet I added peanut butter to that thing.

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Confession #12: I’m procrastinating getting my laundry out of the dryer, but I’ll go do that now.

Confession #13: I actually did go to confession this weekend.

Also, here’s a random picture of a breakfast that I ate, because I took the photo and the lighting was decent, and yogurt bowls tend to look aesthetically pleasing.

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Hope you have a marvelous Monday!

So tell me:

Two things you did this weekend!

What is the best thing you’ve cooked recently?

Did you watch any sports this weekend?

Before Going Back to Reality

I’m going back to Boston today!!!

As sad as I am to be leaving my family, I am very looking forward to being with my friends and doing all the learning and activities back at Boston University. It’s been almost 8 months after all!

I don’t know how I’ll do jumping back into reality after what feels like a five month vacation (with study abroad and winter break), but these last few days of break have been the perfect last hurrah.

Here are some things I’ve done before going back to reality:

1) Made my favorite green silver dollar banana pancakes from The Healthy Maven on Thursday morning.

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as always, topped with Greek yogurt, peanut butter, cinnamon, maple syrup + glass o’ milk

2) Gone on long, contemplative walks around the neighborhood.

3) Had lots of solo dance parties in my room.

4) Tried a new fitness class for free with a voucher that came in the mail! It’s called Body Burn, and I think the concept is similar to that of Orange Theory Fitness. You wear a Polar heart rate monitor across your chest, and you try to keep up your HR elevated at around 80-90% of your max HR throughout the entire 45 minute circuit training class.

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Since I went to the relatively new Friday 9AM class, I was the only one who showed up, so it was basically a 30 minute personal class with a swole Italian-American trainer. It was fun! Some treadmill, rowing, TRX, weights, resistance band work, and abs. It wasn’t the hardest thing ever, but I wasn’t pushing myself that hard (my quads were still sore from Wednesday + plantar fasciitis). Hopefully I can go again one day!

5) I’ve eaten a lot of cold roasted vegetables straight out of their container. Doesn’t take much to please me.

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G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

6) Madre and I went on a sushi and bakery date on Friday ♥︎

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7) I ate plenty of said bakery items.

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huge, buttery poppy seed rolls

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amazing apple cinnamon cake (look at all that apple! and the crumble topping 10/10)

8) I saw Daliza and Michael on Friday night! It was lovely catching up with those two.

9) The fam and I attended a 6 hour defensive drivers’ course on Saturday. #weekendthings. It’s for insurance reduction. We went three years ago to a different company’s course, but this year’s by AAA was a lot more interactive and less boring 🙂

10) We went to Mass and a huge, fancy {Groupon} dinner at  Xaviars X2O on the Hudson on Saturday night!

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just some of the goodies: brown butter pine nut ricotta ravioli for my appetizer (THE BROWN BUTTERRRRR) // Madre’s seared tuna sashimi appetizer //  my banana walnut bread pudding // Madre’s carrot cake // Ben’s warm chocolate lava cake  // delicious quail with kale, mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes for my entree // Ben’s grilled octopus appetizer // complimentary chocolate almond truffles after the whole meal (“omg they’re giving us more food.”)

We share everything when we eat out, but this was still SO MUCH FOOD (thanks to Groupon – three courses were included for EACH person!). And if what’s pictured above wasn’t enough, Pop had a pâté plate for his appetizer, Ben had pork chop for his entree, Madre had an incredible stuffed chicken for hers, and Pop had rabbit and egg noodles for his. They also had complimentary cheese biscuits to start, so you know we were on board for that.

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The food and the company were just splendid 🙂

10) I ate some refreshing soluble fiber the next morning in the form of delicious chia egg white banana oats for the first time in a long time!

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11) I’ve been movin’ and groovin’ in the good ol’ basement.

  • Saturday: Michelle and Lori’s 100 burpee workout (subbed full burpees for the side burpees) before the defensive drivers’ course
  • Sunday: 700 reps of Jess’ killer 1000 rep workout (subbed bent over rows for the T pushups)

My workouts were feeling just meh last week, which is totally fine, but it was nice to finally feel like I could attack Sunday’s workout and finish feeling totally spent!

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I was keeled over on my side right before I took this photo

12) I ate a slice of Chicago deep dish sausage pizza that my aunt sent us.

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oh hot dang

13) I packed a crap ton of stuff for college, because Megan and I are living together in an apartment, wee!!

14) I’ve indulged in watching Kyle Hanagami’s dance choreography on repeat.

I can’t wait to dance again (not this well, but I can try)!

15) Lastly, I’ve been blogging (obviously). I will miss the freedom to blog at a leisurely pace, but alas, schoolwork calls!

I hope you all have a great Monday! Dance, eat lotsa carbs, and let someone know how much you love them.

So tell me:

Two things you did this weekend!

Best thing you ate this weekend?

Have you ever tried Orange Theory Fitness or something similar?

Cheers, Dublin

HELLO, AMERICA!

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could not wipe the smile off my face when I saw this

I can hear Frank Sinatra singing, “New York, New York”.

It’s like I never even left this side of the pond. I’ve gone right back to eating sushi, driving, and using toilet paper that comes in roll form.

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I swear I did not ask for this to be taken, but Madre takes as many random photos as I do

No, but seriously, my brain is still processing the fact that I studied abroad in Ireland for the past 3.5 months. It was a whirlwind, a challenge, and a blast. I’ll save the reflections for another post and just focus on the transition from Europe back to America in this post.

My peers and I celebrated what felt like the end of an era during our last days in Dublin. Megan and I were basically obligated to go to one last brunch:

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The Lovely Food Co.1 was the first brunch place we ate at in Dublin, so we chose it as our last brunch destination to bring it full circle. ‘Twas a fabulous decision because this was the best brunch we had in Ireland. She ordered the eggs benedict, and I ordered the eggs royale (same thing except with smoked salmon instead of ham).

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The crusty bread was unconventional, but it totally worked. For brunch dessert, we split an order of their brioche French toast, since that’s what Megan ordered her first time there, and she could not stop thinking about since.

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For good reason!! This little guy was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Served with cream, berry compote, and classic maple syrup. #dead.

We may or may not have bought two desserts from the bakery to take away.

After walking around city centre to look for books for our plane ride (I ended up buying the fourth HP book because I needed to return the one I had to the library, but I still had 200+ pages left), we had a late farewell lunch with all the students and program directors at Il Corvo Italian restaurant.

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I had the lasagna with a side of veggies and happily finished it all. I also almost cried after one of the program director’s farewell speeches. All good things here!

Later that night, a few of us walked back to city centre for some gelato and store-perusing.

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“Florence cream” flavor from Gelato di Natura (it tasted like saffron!)

Megan and I also watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while eating our sneaked-in dinners in the back of the theatre.

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sandwiches and salads — your typical theatre fare 

p.s. the movie was great! a little confusing, but fantastic nevertheless. Eddie Redmayne *swoon*

And then, of course, we had to join the rest of our friends for one last night out on the town!

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baby Guinness shots (the first and last shot I will have ever had in Ireland…until next time!)

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I wish I could say I was cool and went pub-hopping that night, but I went home after the first bar and called it a night.

Saturday morning called for a quick workout and the last scramble to pack our whole lives into our suitcases (“It’s TWO POUNDS over 50!!!”). Eventually, we made it through the airport and onto the plane. My last meal in Ireland was this sandwich with veggies, relish, and an absurdly thick slice of cheese.

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Followed by a pretty tasty airplane dinner a few hours later. They served us turkey and stuffing meals with pasta and veggies, soda bread and Kerrygold butter (♥︎), and raspberry white chocolate mousse. What luxury!

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“milk in a stick”

Purchasing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the plane ride was one of the wiser decisions I’ve made in my life. It occupied me for the almost the whole 7 hours! (It also blew my MIND.) I was also very surprised that I never napped or even got up to pee during the entire flight.

When we arrived in New York, my family greeted me at the airport, and I almost cried again. I was so happy to see them. Also, one of the first things my brother told me after I hugged him was that they bought me Lloyd’s carrot cake. I appreciate how well they know me.

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Even though it was past midnight Dublin time, it was only 7:30 pm when I met up with them and they hadn’t eaten dinner yet. By then, I was pretty hungry for a midnight snack/dinner too, so they took me to eat some delicious sushi, since I had not eaten any in Europe (I had trust issues).

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Also, Madre bought me a portable massage table for Christmas (upon my request, since I’ve been learning how to give good massages in Dublin), so Pop broke it in for me as I gave him a massage that night. The gift that keeps on giving, I say!

Regarding jetlag, I’m actually pretty adjusted already! I persevered and stayed up until 11:30pm NY time (4:30am Dublin time) and woke up at 9 am yesterday.

I was feeling ready to move and groove in the morning, but I had limited time before Mass, so I did 100 burpees for time. I tied my previous PR (6:12), but not without my heart feeling like it would explode. Holy smokes, I had not done a “sprint” like that in a while.

This dinner last night was nothing out of the ordinary except that I cooked the eggs on a gas stove (instead of electric like in our Dublin dorms, which I didn’t realize until now takes 10x longer to heat up) and that I topped it with SRIRACHA. Oh, how I missed thee.

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Followed by cake for dayyyyyyz.

Today I’m headed up to a very special city for a couple days 🙂 More to come!

I have so much to say and reflect upon in regards to my study abroad experience in Ireland, but for now, I’ll say:

Sláinte, Baile Átha Cliath (Cheers, Dublin)!

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend?

What is the best airport/airline food you’ve ever eaten?

Are there any things about coming home that you didn’t even realize you missed during an extended vacation/trip?

“Booze and Grooves”

My friend Ben came up with it.

When I left for Ireland last month, he told me he expected my adventures to be titled “booze and grooves” and to disregard liver health. I’m only listening to his first suggestion.

This weekend we had a class trip to Northern Ireland! The history of division between the British/Protestants vs. Irish/Catholics is jarring yet fascinating. One of the first things our tour guide in Belfast said was, “This is the most dangerous part of Belfast… If a taxi honks at you, sprint back to the bus as fast you can. That’s the most important.”

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Illegal murals are a big part of the culture. They are all political statements rooted in the violent divisions that manifested only two decades ago.

I was that student who asked, “Are you being serious?” He answered with a straight face, “Does it look like I’m kidding?”

“No, sir.”

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But later he told us that he was kidding, and we all laughed (*nervous relief laughs for me*). We still couldn’t really open our mouths about religion or politics though.

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I must admit that I felt uncomfortable in Belfast for the first half of the day, but after visiting the peace wall, going downtown, and learning about the government at the Parliament building reassured me that peace is being pursued.

Belfast peace wall feat. @ustheduo lyrics ✌🏼 #StopJustLove #Belfast #DublinMovesAndGrooves

A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

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They even served us afternoon coffee, tea, and biscuits during our break, which was the cutest. I am officially a fan of digestive biscuits dipped in tea.

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Witnessing and experiencing the city made for one excellent history lesson!

For dinner that night, a bunch of us went to Robinson’s and ate inside a “snug”, which we learned was the ladies’ corner back in the day, where we might have been served alcohol if the men of institution were feelin’ nice enough. Coincidentally, we were a bunch of ladies gathered in a snug on Thursday night. But we bought our own drinks 🙂

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I ordered the shepherd’s pie, which was more like sloppy joe with a lot of mashed potatoes on top, but I was fine with that.

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Pretty much demolished the whole thing. Then it was time to get wild and cuh-razy at the Crown Liquor Saloon, ooo la la.

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Megan and I had not bought an alcoholic drink in Ireland until that night, so we both bought Jameson Gingers and celebrated! Everyone else was probably more excited for us than we were for ourselves, but I appreciated the energy.

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Jameson Ginger is probably one of my favorite drinks that I’ve tasted in my short and limited experience with alcohol consumption, but it still doesn’t compare to the taste of ice cream.

So Megan and I enjoyed our drinks, but we’re more willing to put our money towards a happier cause— dessert. It was still super fun to actually go out with people (I’m such a square usually).

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We still went to bed before 1 am, only after watching an Irish dating show on TV.

On Friday morning, Megan and I grabbed breakfast at cafe approximately 20 paces from our hotel lobby. I ordered porridge with banana, honey, and peanut butter, and it ROCKED. The oats were cooked to a texture that was doughy and satisfying, and the addition of whole milk was life-changing.

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At first, I wasn’t sure if there was peanut butter in there because it was hidden by the banana slices, but after asking, the waiter said, “It’s in there! A surprise underneath. There’s enough for two in there.”

“Enough for two people.” I laughed when I finished the bowl, because that’s how much peanut butter I always put in my oats.

Megan and I went on a brisk walk around the city (brisk because we almost got lost) before our class headed to Giant’s Causeway!

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It was just as beautiful as the Cliffs of Moher!

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The unique part of Giant’s Causeway is the rocks. There are tens of thousands of rocks shaped like hexagons due to how the volcanic lava solidified and cracked over the period of hundreds of thousands of years.

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But you could also choose to believe that giants did it. 😉

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photo from my friend Cassandra!

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PC: Cassandra

geometry and earth science would have been way more fun here!! // #GiantsCauseway #DublinMovesAndGrooves

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Yet another beautiful experience in Ireland.

Not a beautiful experience? Rushing to buy Irish stew with brown bread for lunch and having the butter packets melt from the heat of the stew all over your paper bag on the bus.

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Megan: “Butter disaster 2016.”

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The stew was delicious though!!

One pit stop on the way to Derry for the Games of Thrones fans:

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I don’t watch the show, but if you do, does this look familiar?? (p.s. my friends spotted the whole cast inside a bar on Thursday night!)

Next stop was Derry/Londonderry (depending on whether you’re a Nationalist or a Unionist). We toured some more murals and the big wall in the middle of the city. It was so nice to move the legs and witness some stunning views of the whole city.

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Our hotel was a 15 minute drive out of the city, so we settled into our rooms before taking a taxi back in for dinner. HOWEVER, everything on a Friday night was closed! Megan, Cristen and I wanted to go to a restaurant called Blackbird for a wagyu beef burger (per my mom’s recommendation), but they told us that they stop serving food at 5pm.

Wut.

Disappointed, we walked around to find another restaurant, but everything except the bars and some random fast food places had their gates down. So strange. We decided to go a chain chicken restaurant called Nando’s, which was still a good dinner!

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medium spice chicken on a super grain salad bowl

I was satisfied, and I had missed green vegetables. AND AVOCADO.

Then we wanted ice cream, so the waitress at Nando’s suggested Joe Jackson’s inside a mall down the street. I got the honeycomb and strawberry cheesecake flavors, which hit the spot!

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The night wasn’t what we were expecting, but it was still a delicious and fun adventure. We also successfully hailed a taxi back to our hotel, which was a win.

Also, we had to put key card into this slot by the door of our hotel room in order for the electricity to work. Different!

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Saturday morning, I ate a whole grain roll with peanut butter that we bought the night before for breakfast.

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There was a big gym in the hotel, so I took full advantage during our free morning. I was STOKED to be using gym equipment for the first time in a month!

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I warmed up and did three sets each of:

  • 10 Bulgarian split squats each leg + 20 jump lunges
  • squats (varying weights) + 20 squat jumps
  • 12 deadlifts (105#) + 30 side jump lunges

Then I did EMOM 10:

  • 5 squat cleans (65#)
  • 8 burpees over the bar

That EMOM absolutely crushed my entire being. I don’t often think “I’m dying” after a workout, but this one made me feel that way.

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I stretched my legs and did some lat pull downs, military presses, and tricep pull downs to finish.

Naturally, two days later, I still can’t move anything in my body.

A bunch of us ordered lunch at the hotel restaurant before hitting the road back to Dublin. It was a bizarre experience in that the service took so long and no one really knew what was going on, but we learned that the restaurant isn’t usually open and prepared to serve 15 hungry kids at that time, so everyone was just discombobulated.

The servers were very kind though, and the food was great! These fries…

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I ordered a toasted beef, brie, and tomato sandwich, which I ate on the bus.

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The rest of the day back on campus involved unpacking, roasting brussels sprouts, and jamming out to Disney music with my friends.

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Sunday morning was some play, but mostly work. We have essays due this week!! First, Megan and I went to Mass in city centre, which was a lovely 2.5-mile walk. Then we met up with Cristen at Brother Hubbard for lunch. This is one of my favorite restaurants that I’ve been to Ireland so far!

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I ordered the Turkish eggs menemem, which included herbs and roasted peppers on toasted sourdough. Best scrambled eggs ever.

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Megan shared some of her pulled pork with me too, which was so tasty.

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We walked back to campus, where worked hard for the rest of the day. There was a break for grocery shopping and dinner in there somewhere. And dessert! Megan and I picked up desserts from Bread and Butter on our way back from lunch earlier, so we used them as incentives to get work done.

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I’m always down for carrot cake.

I also got to FaceTime Rachel at night!

“Work hard, play hard” is a fun motto to live by, but then it reverses to “play hard, work hard,” and I’m really feeling that vibe right now. Time to go finish this essay! And hopefully some yoga to streeeeetch.

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overnight oats in a jar that I just ate 🙂

Hope you all have a kick-butt week!!

(p.s. apparently there have been some issues with the commenting system on my blog, so I apologize!! I’ll try to get the problem fixed ASAP!)

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Northern Ireland?

What is the coolest geologic phenomenon you’ve ever seen?

What is your favorite alcoholic beverage? I need ideas for next time!

Two things you did this weekend!